Taking opportunities to be alone

12 April 2024
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Not wanting to brave the sudden rainstorm that appeared today, I spent the day inside, chipping away at my new portfolio home page (sneak peek) and enjoying the solitude. Normally, I would be at the library the whole morning. While I still consider the library a solitary place, I've been thinking about how it's not the amount of people around you that determines whether I'm experiencing solitude. It's about letting any external voices speak to me at all.

Social, news, and entertainment media are obviously guilty of this. Music, and particularly podcasts, likewise fragment my moments of solitude. Messages, via email or text, do the same. These are all sources of input from other people. Even a good book is, at its core, an outside voice.

I came across this quote today, from the late painter Agnes Martin:

I suggest to artists that you take every opportunity of being alone.

Solitude is necessary—it's an essential part of staving off loneliness—but like anything, it has its limits, its downsides. Some have pointed out how Martin also spoke of the "devastation wrought by solitude." Somehow, artists, as well as the rest of us, need to balance this fragile paradox.

In my circumstance, however, I think the greater danger is losing any chance at solitude at all. Therefore, I welcome the rain as one of rarely-loved blessings of the northern midwest. There's plenty of voices inside my own studio I still need to quell.


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